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Owliver’s guided tour of the Village of Dreams made up of art!4 min read

January 12, 2021 3 min read


Owliver’s guided tour of the Village of Dreams made up of art!4 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Imagine walking into a village and finding every part of that village covered in beautiful artwork! No, this is not a set out of an animated movie but a real village called Laalbazar, in Jhargram district, West Bengal.

Every house in Laalbazar has paintings depicting scenes from everyday life— tribal dances, wedding celebrations, goats glazing and more!

Join Owliver as he takes you on a tour of one of the most vibrant villages of the world.

Keep your paints and brushes handy!

The beginning

It all started when a Kolkata-based painter and sculptor, Mrinal Mandal, visited the village in 2014.

Owliver’s Obscure Observations:
Mrinal Mandal had co-founded the Chalchitra Academy with fellow artist Jayati Banerjee, to promote the dying arts of Bengal in 2012.

Laalbazar is a beautiful village that has a dense forest at its rear end. It is home to 80 people, many of whom work as daily wage labourers. Mandal thought that art could help improve the conditions of the impoverished village. He started this transformation by hosting free drawing classes for the children of the village with the help of painter Rameswar Soren, and sculptor Jogeswar Hansda.

Simultaneously, they asked the people of the village if they could paint the walls of the mud houses they lived in.

What started with wining trust with one wall resulted in painting all the houses of the village by 2018.

A dream team

Mandal and his team also train the people of the village in arts and crafts to support their livelihood.

The best part is that people across age and gender participate in this creative pursuit!

A village full of art where everyone paints— sounds dreamy, doesn’t it?

That’s what the writer and scholar Shivaji Bandopadhyay thought when he visited the village. He christened it Khwaabgaon (Village of Dreams).

The people of the village practice the art form of Katumkutum, where figurines are made out of the twigs, leaves and roots collected from the forest. The residents also work with sculpting, quilting, kantha work, and creation of natural dyes.

A dream of the future

Mandal and his team are working towards ensuring a time when the single source of income for the people of the village can be the art that they produce.

Khwaabgaon is now a tourist attraction. As such, visitors procure the artefacts created by the artists as souvenirs. This is a valuable source of income for the dreamers of Khwaabgaon.

The team is also setting up a nursery to grow Ayurvedic plants, and make natural compost for the villagers to use and sell. A new studio is also being set up to host a residency so that artists can stay and work with the people of Khwaabgaon.

Owing to the success of the village of dreams, people from neighbouring villages are also approaching Mandal to bring about this transformation in their home.
To that end, the team is planning to start drawing classes in a village called Uranshol situated 6 kilometre away.

We hope that Mandal’s efforts leave the whole world colourful and vibrant!

If you cannot paint walls, do not worry!
Check out Owliver’s DIY and create some art that you can hang on the walls of your home. As you can see from Khwaabgaon, a humble beginning can result in absolute beauty.

So, splash away!

Images sourced from Get Bengal.

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